The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Trump prevails in rural Johnson County caucus

Residents of small-town Oxford, Iowa, decisively chose Donald Trump in their local caucus.
Sahithi Shankaiahgari
An attendee is seen wearing a Trump hat during the Iowa caucuses at Clear Creek Elementary School in Oxford, Iowa on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. Trump led the precinct with 32 votes.

Residents of rural Johnson County braved the extreme cold and snow-covered roads for the Republican caucuses to show their support for former President Donald Trump. 

In Oxford, Iowa, located about 30 minutes northwest of Iowa City with a population of 700, more than half of the approximately 50 caucus attendees cast their support toward Trump. Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis received votes in the single digits. 

This result follows suit with the rest of the state, with Trump winning big over DeSantis and Haley, according to unofficial results.

The small venue of the Clear Creek Elementary school cafeteria was quickly filled up, with nearly eight cafeteria tables being filled with caucus attendees — some with their children in tow. Participants were bundled from head to toe in hats, boots, bulky coats, and gloves.

Many attendees in Oxford stated they had no trouble getting to their caucus location and weather was not a deterrent to their participation.

Devon Hodgeman, a volunteer at the precinct, said the turnout for Oxford was higher than he expected considering the weather conditions. In fact, he said this year’s caucus may have even had a higher turnout than the last in 2020.

Despite being the minority of voters present at the caucus, several attendees voiced their dislike for Trump.

Sasha and Sean Murphy of Oxford made the trek to their caucus location to support DeSantis and Ramaswamy, respectively.

Sasha Murphy said she really wanted DeSantis to run for president and was excited when he announced his run. However, she said his campaign has been lackluster and has somewhat swayed her faith in him.

Despite this, though, Sasha Murphy said she likely will not vote for Trump even if he comes out on top in the Iowa caucuses.

“Just because Ron DeSantis doesn’t win, I’m not going to be completely out,” Sasha Murphy said. “But I really hate Trump.”

Sasha Murphy said she was a registered Democrat in both the 2016 and 2020 elections but said she switched to Republican after having children. The policies she said are most important to her are border security, strengthening the economy as well as bringing much-needed unity to a divided political environment. 

Sean Murphy said his top two presidential candidates are Ramaswamy and DeSantis. He said Ramaswamy’s campaigning and media appearances — including on Fox News and smaller political podcasts — are what won him over.

“His political career is pretty young, so he hasn’t really been on my radar for probably more than eight months [or] a year,” Sean Murphy said. “But I think he’s done a lot of media. He’s been really friendly.”

Whoever the presidential nominee for the Republican party ends up being, Sean Murphy said he will vote red no matter who is on the ballot.

In Oxford, Trump supporters made up the majority. Many attendees, including retired locals J.R. Brumley and Dianne Kinsenbaw, said their support for Trump has not wavered a bit in light of his recent legal troubles.

Both Brumley and Kinsenbaw said they voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. Both said Trump greatly benefitted the country’s economy and kept all the promises he made during his campaign, despite a lack of support behind him in the legislative branch.

“There were more Democrats than Republicans in the Congress,” Kinsenbaw said. “He didn’t have that support, but everything he promised, he attempted, and a lot of them he accomplished; that’s unusual for a politician.”

Brumley and Kinsenbaw both said the issues that are most important to them this election cycle are stronger border security and avoiding economic downturns, referencing the inflated gas prices in recent years.

After the votes were counted at the precinct and Trump was named the clear winner, Lisa Gerard, who attended the caucus in support of Trump, said she was not surprised by the results of the Oxford caucus and believes Trump will prevail.

“I’m excited to see what the state says,” Gerard said. “But I think it will be Trump.”

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.